Reading a book is like travelling to a new land.
When you read a book written by Ernest Hemingway, you live the life that Hemingway describes in his book. You become the protagonist, you do all the actions, you fall in love and you get hurt- as long as you are reading the book. A good write can make that process easier for you.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez can engage the readers in the shortest possible time. His world is very different from the one I live. Yet, it takes only the first paragraph to start the journey. Same goes for Charles Dickens.
I have read more than 300 classics in my life. Classics is a journey that you can take again and again. Each classic is like going to a different place and travelling there. For example, when you read Thomas Hardy, you travel to a distant England village, when you read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, you wander around in America.
I recently read 1984 by George Orwell. Reading that book is like travelling to a communist country. Orwell is the guide himself and he carries a gun. You know your guide and his job, yet the gun in his hand makes you not trust him entirely. You always stay a bit confused, a bit tensed. As he describes different aspects of the place, you listen with a sharp pain in the back of your head. You always stay aware of the presence of the gun in the hands of your tour guide.
James Joyce is again a tour guide, but he is mad. You are confident that he knows everything, yet you can't figure him out. He probably knows too much. He talks in a level which is beyond your intelligence. When he talks, he talks in a poetic voice. You are not quite sure if you like him, but you feel you like him.
A mass-market fiction writer is like a tour guide who spoils all the fun by not taking you to places instead, telling the whole story by his clever oral power. You never get to live the life, you just listen to him. So when you finish listening to him, you often forget what he has already told. You get the excitement, but you never quite remember as you have never lived that life.
There are some writers who take the middle path. Stephen King's Duma Key is a prime example of that. He tells the story and he makes you live the life- both at the same time.
I don't know what kind of writer I am. I am writing, I keep on writing, I will write, till I am satisfied with my writing.
Arthur Golden took 10 years to write Memoirs of a Geisha. In that time, he wrote the whole book 3 times. And at the end of all that, he created such a beautiful place that I love going again and again and again...